Last night I finally got to see the film Helvetica. I’d been wanting to see it for a while, but somehow kept missing it. However, it was definitely worth the wait.
Now, I am at heart a graphic designer and a total typography geek. I’m forever aware of the type around me and I catch myself analyzing the choices that designers make in not just the typeface that they use, but the way it’s presented. The color, the shape, the placement, all of it. So I knew that I would enjoy an entire documentary about the evolution of graphic design and the part that a particular font has played in it. What I did not expect was my very much NOT a design-minded husband enjoying it almost as much as I did.
It was very fun to see it through his eyes, with his comments of how unaware he was of the design in even a simple street sign. It’s something that I’m aware of constantly. It’s similar to a filmmaker watching a movie and seeing the underlying choices that were made. Most of all, it gave him a glimpse into my world and why yes it IS normal to spend an hour choosing the kerning on a font for a simple business logo design.
Anyway, the documentary is very well put together. The subject matter might sound boring, but it’s presented in a very visually compelling manner and it doesn’t lag at all. The filmmakers traveled to quite a few locations and one thing that you realize is how connected the whole world is by design. No matter the language, the presentation of an idea can invoke certain responses based simply on human nature. It’s quite interesting how they break it down and each designer interviewed brings a new approach to the matter.
So is this about an hour and a half of people droning on about a font that was created in the 50s? Nope, not at all. It touches on graphic design in general, typography more in depth and gives you the history and the reality of how our world is surrounding us with type constantly. It’s interesting even to people who aren’t designers. I highly recommend it.
I rate it four Haas Neue Grotesks out of five.